NSF & Congress
House Floor Debate on HR 4194, Departments of Veterans
Affairs and Housing and Urban Development, and Independent
Agencies Appropriations Act, 1999 (House of Representatives
- July 29, 1998)
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to House Resolution
501 and rule XXIII, the Chair declares the House in
the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the
Union for the further consideration of the bill, H.R.
IN THE COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Accordingly, the House resolved itself into the Committee
of the Whole House on the State of the Union for the
further consideration of the bill (H.R. 4194) making
appropriations for the Departments of Veterans Affairs
and Housing and Urban Development, and for sundry
independent agencies, boards, commissions, corporations,
and offices for the fiscal year ending September 30,
1999, with Mr.Combest in the chair.
AMENDMENT NO. 26 OFFERED BY MR. ROYCE
Mr. ROYCE. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.
The CHAIRMAN. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
The text of the amendment is as follows:
Amendment No. 26 offered by Mr. Royce: page 76, line
24 strike '2,745,000,000' and insert '2,545,700,000.'
Page 90, line 18 strike ', and $70,000,000 is appropriated
to the National Science Foundation, 'Research and
related activities'.' and insert '.'
Mr. ROYCE. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of
this amendment. It will merely freeze grant research
funding at the same amount that was appropriated last
year. There is no cut in the amendment. Our concern
is with some of the grants; do we really think it
is a good idea to take $176,000 from working families
so that we can figure out the different meaning of
smiles, and that was one of the grants.
Mr. Chairman, we have a responsibility to the American
people to see that their tax money is being spent
wisely. Asking them to dip just a little further into
their pockets to pay $178,000 for a study on maintaining
self-esteem does not fulfill that responsibility.
During debate on this bill last year, an amendment
was adopted that struck $174,000 from the National
Science Foundation because of previous inappropriate
grant making. As I understand it, this was meant as
a demonstration to NSF that they should take greater
care of taxpayer money. Given some of the recent grants
that it has doled out since that time, it seems that
they have not taken heed of that action.
Another recent grant for $220,000 was handed over to
a researcher for a study entitled "Status Dominance
and Motivational Effects on Nonverbal Sensitivity
and Smiling." I will submit my finding for free. Spending
that much hard-earned money on sensitivity and smiling
will wipe the smiles off the taxpayers' faces and
make them pretty darn insensitive.
Another researcher was given over $476,000 for his
study. For this amount he would perform a manufacturing
analysis of coffee makers related to the grammar rules
and the grammar itself which will be implemented.
Now, as we go down these grants, one enterprising researcher
has received over $29 million since 1992 in nine different
grants. From all indications, the bureaucrats have
been busy shoveling out the door in the name of science
to make sure we do not slide back into the dark ages.
For example, research into the sex selection and evolution
of horns in the dung beetle, $331,000 for the study
of nitrogen excretion in fish, $113,000 for research
into the agenda effects on group decisions.
I could go on, but our current agenda calls for a
group decision. Two hundred twenty-eight years ago,
when the Founding Fathers gathered in Philadelphia,
they did not declare our independence so that the
new government could tax American citizens and hand
out $25,000 to study microwave methods for lower fat
patties in meatballs.
I urge my colleagues to support this amendment, Mr.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong opposition
to this amendment.
Mr. Chairman, the poet Alexander Pope remarked centuries
ago that a little learning is a dangerous thing. This
amendment is a good example of that principle.
First of all, the Dear Colleague letters about this
amendment have cited several NSF project titles that
have been grossly misinterpreted. For example, grants
researching asynchronous transfer mode, which is a
computer technology known as ATM, were misconstrued
as research on automated teller machines. Grants concerning
billiards were thought to be about the game of pool
when actually they concern abstruse matters in high-energy
physics. The only trouble we have right here in River
City is with this amendment.
Mr. Chairman, this amendment is a product of faulty
Now I would never claim that the National Science
Foundation has never given out a misguided grant or
that their grants should not be opened to congressional
scrutiny, but as the ranking Republican on the House
Committee on Science I am quite familiar with NSF
operations, and I have helped oversee them for 15
years. And I can attest that the National Science
Foundation is a model agency that provides grants
through a peer review process that is the envy of
other institutions and other nations. As a result,
the research it funds is of high quality and has provided
enormous insights that have improved our understanding
and our lives.
A little learning is a dangerous thing for a Nation
as well as an individual, and NSF's work ensures that
our Nation is never hobbled by inadequate learning.
Mr. Chairman, let us not make the mistake of judging
a grant by its title. We should resoundingly vote
down this amendment and demonstrate our continued
support for the outstanding work performed by the
National Science Foundation.
Mr. SANFORD. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of this
amendment because it is a very simple amendment. This
amendment simply freezes the research and related
categories funding area of NSF at about $2.5 billion.
It freezes at this year's level of spending.
The reason that this amendment is offered by Mr. Royce
and myself and the reason supported by the National
Taxpayers Union, the reason supporting it by Citizens
against Government Waste is because it makes common
It, in the whole, boils down to one very simple thought,
and that is the issue of priorities. When I stand
in front of a grocery store back home in my district
and talk to folks, they talk about how they have to
set priorities within their homes.
When they are given the choice between, let us say,
the study of people's reaction to dirty jokes, specifically
to sex and fart jokes, and cancer or diabetes research,
they say that a study of sex and fart jokes is interesting,
but not vital, and that they would rather see those
same dollars go into cancer research or diabetes research.
On that same vain, again, this is simply an amendment
about priorities. Again, it leaves in place $2.5 billion
for funding for the National Science Foundation research.
It simply says let us put our house in order.
I mean, the same folks that I talked to back home,
they say, if they had to set no priorities, when they
walked into Wal-Mart, they would essentially walk
out of Wal-Mart with everything that is in the store.
But they cannot do that. They have to set a budget.
They have to set numbers. They come up with what they
can spend overall.
So this amendment is simply a way of signaling to
the National Science Foundation please look at those
things. Because the gentleman from California (Mr.
Lewis) himself last year offered an amendment
that said there was a grant that, as I understand
it, would have studied, for about $174,000, why some
people choose to run for office or choose not to run
for office. Again, interesting but not vital.
I think that we ought to look more at what is vital
when we fund these grants. I have other examples that
have come up in this year's list. An example is $334,000
to develop methods for routing pickup and delivery
vehicles in realtime. Again, that has something that
is interesting, but not vital. The part that is vital
is vital to the likes of UPS or FedEx. If that is
at the case, why can UPS or FedEx not pay for them?
It has $14,000 to study the long-term profitability
of automobile leasing. Interesting, but not vital.
The part that is vital is vital to Budget or Hertz.
Why can they not pay for it?
It has $12,000 to cheap talk. It has $137,000 to study
how legislative leaders help shape their parties issues
outside the legislature particularly in the media.
Interesting, but not vital.
I could come up with others, but I think the main
point is quite simple. That is that the National Science
Foundation in funding research needs to look at two
things: One, a clear criteria that answers the question
for the taxpayer, is this interesting or is it vital?
And that it answers the question of, is it worth the
cost? Because you can simply turn on the Internet
and see that there is all kinds of information out
there. The question before us, though, is not, is
there information, but is it vital information?
Mr. EHLERS. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite
number of words.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to respond to the amendment
and the comments just made. I would remind my colleague,
the gentleman from South Carolina, that when his people
come out of the store, my colleague might ask them
what they think of the laser scanner that was used
to get them out of the store more quickly and more
efficiently, because development of the laser was
financed in part by the National Science Foundation.
My colleague might ask, too, whether they enjoy the
rapid delivery of their FedEx packages. Indeed, part
of that research has been done by the National Science
Foundation. My colleague suggested that FedEx should
pay for it themselves, but, in fact, Federal Express
developed into what it is today, because of the techniques
resulting from such research, and the taxes that FedEx
pays today far more than cover the cost of any research
that was done which may have helped to develop the
My point is that the United States has a vibrant and
booming economy today, especially compared to that
of other nations, because we also have a booming and
vital research enterprise in this Nation. There is
a direct correlation between economic growth and the
amount of money spent on research, and all of us should
Let me also comment on a few other specifics because,
as the gentleman from New York (Mr. Boehlert)
said earlier, much of this debate arises out of a
misunderstanding of the scientific terms used.
Some terms used in science which are similar to everyday
language have totally different meanings when used
scientifically. As an example, consider `billiards',
which was referred to in one of the `Dear Colleagues'
sent out by the sponsors of the amendment. Billiards
we all understand is a game. But, in science, the
word is used to describe a theory which originally
was developed to explain the collisions and interaction
between rigid objects, but today is used to describe
collisions and trajectories of small objects, such
as atoms, molecules and nuclei, within confined areas.
This is crucial to the study of air flow and turbulence
around aircraft. In fact, a recent development was
the discovery that ripples in the surface of an aircraft
wing reduce turbulence substantially, resulting in
fuel savings and cost savings.
It is interesting that you can now buy swimsuits that
incorporate the same effect and will now allow for
faster swimming in competition. That was not the intent
of the research, but this is a by-product that is
ATMs were criticized in one of the 'Dear Colleagues.'
As used in science, that does not refer to 'automated
teller machines,' where you withdraw money, but rather
refers to 'asynchronous transfer modes,' which is
today the most modern and most rapid method of transmitting
information over the Internet or between computers
in general. This is very beneficial to society, and
allows sending more information for less money.
That brings us into the next item of criticism: that
NSF spent $12,887 to study cheap talk. That is not
referring to what you might in common parlance think
of as 'cheap talk,' but rather refers to the cost
of information transmitted over the Internet or used
All of these are very beneficial grants. They have
helped us. They have helped our economy and made us
one of the strongest nations on this earth. It is
hard to find a Federal agency that gives us as much
for our money as the National Science Foundation,
and it certainly does help our economy to a great
extent. Therefore, Mr. Chairman, I strongly urge the
defeat of this amendment.
Mr. BROWN of California. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike
the requisite number of words.
(Mr. BROWN of California asked and was given permission
to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. BROWN of California. Mr. Chairman, I know that
it is not necessary to extend this discussion and
that the comments made by our distinguished colleagues,
the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Ehlers) as
well as the gentleman from New York (Mr. Boehlert),
probably adequately deal with this subject. But having
risen to debate it many times over the last 20 years,
I would feel remiss if I did not stand up and say
a few words.
Let me identify myself with the remarks already made
by my two distinguished colleagues. Let me point out
that this simple innocuous amendment is approximately
a 10 percent cut in the amount of money that would
otherwise go to this fine agency and is much more
important than might be thought.
Let me say that I appreciate the close scrutiny being
given to the research done at the National Science
Foundation. That close scrutiny is healthy. I would
not want to have it discouraged. For one thing, it
gives those of us in close touch with N.S.F. research
an opportunity to praise the work being done. It encourages
others to take a closer look at the work of the National
Science Foundation and to see if they cannot come
to appreciate the value of that work.
I remember when we first started debating this subject
of research grant titles one popular target was a
grant titled 'The sex life of the Screw worm' a subject
of great importance in Texas. Everybody thought they
knew what sex life was about, and they could not understand
why we needed to spend money researching it.
But, actually, as we pointed out many times, this
innocuous piece of research has saved the cattle industry
of Texas hundreds of times over what the cost of the
actual research project was, because it involves the
mode of reproduction of one of the pests that is of
greatest importance to the Texas cattle industry,
as I am sure the chairman of the committee well knows.
But this is merely one more example, to go along with
the others that have already been mentioned, showing
why one needs to look beyond the titles themselves
to the content of the research in order to have some
understanding of what its importance is.
Mr. Chairman, I urge all of the Members to follow
the example of the author of this amendment and scrutinize
these research projects very carefully. I think they
will be highly enlightened if they do so, and will
strongly oppose amendments such as the one before
Mr. FOLEY. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite
number of words.
(Mr. FOLEY asked and was given permission to revise
and extend his remarks.)
Mr. FOLEY. Mr. Chairman, let me just for a moment
correct the record about the impression being left
about the amendment of the gentleman from South Carolina
(Mr. Sanford). It was just described as a 10
It always amazes me in this city of Washington, freezing
expenditures at the current year's level is described
as a cut. It was just mentioned we would see a 10
percent reduction in the amount of money spent on
research. Correct the report. If the amendment of
the gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. Sanford)
is adopted, the committee and the National Science
Foundation will be able to spend exactly what they
spend this year.
Most families in America have not been able to allocate
a 10 percent additional expenditure for next year's
vacation or for the next year's food supply or for
school uniforms, simply because they cannot project
those types of dollars forward because they have to
live in reality, they have to live with today's dollars.
I agree with the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Ehlers)
that there are a number of important research projects
that are done by the National Science Foundation,
and I agree with him. I think we have developed some
wonderful technology in this government through their
efforts, and I generally support most of them.
What I am concerned about is its refusal to heed Congress'
call to use better judgment in awarding grants even
though we are proposing to increase its budget this
year by $200 million.
One of my constituents, Bill Donnelly, recently contacted
my office to complain that the National Science Foundation
awarded a $107,000 grant to study dirty jokes. Although
skeptical, I contacted the National Science Foundation
for an explanation. To my dismay, not only did the
National Science Foundation spend more than $100,000
to fund such a study but it attempted to justify the
grant by saying that there is no accurate study as
to why people laugh at certain offensive jokes.
Mr. BROWN of California. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman
Mr. FOLEY. I yield to the gentleman from California.
Mr. BROWN of California. Mr. Chairman, let me make
clear that I did not say that the gentleman's amendment
was a 10 percent cut in the NSF Budget. I said that
his amendment was a 10% cut in the amount of money
that would otherwise go to this fine agency. His amendment
is $270 million below what the committee recommends,
or $305 million below what the administration requested.
It is actually a reduction in the amount of growth
that has been projected, as we both understand.
Mr. FOLEY. I thank the gentleman for the clarification.
Mr. Chairman, obviously, the National Science Foundation
does not get it. The U.S. taxpayer should not be funding
research that has dubious scientific merit, at best.
This is why we should support the Sanford amendment.
We need to send a strong message not only to the National
Science Foundation, folks, this is not just about
one agency. This is about every agency that determines
how to use its Federal dollars.
Now, I got a very nice letter back from the Office
of the Assistant Director for Social, Behavioral and
Economic Sciences trying to justify that this was
a very important study. I still would ask my colleagues
to ask every American taxpayer at home, do they think
we should spend $107,000 to find out why people laugh
at dirty jokes? I would say no.
Mr. LEWIS of California. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike
the requisite number of words.
Mr. Chairman, both the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Stokes)
and I have prepared a very extensive response to this
amendment but, frankly, because of the pressures of
time and otherwise, let me suggest simply that the
National Science Foundation is among the committee's
and the Congress' very high priorities. We believe
that the American government has played a very significant
role in productive research efforts.
It is rather standard for critics of NSF often to
pick a handful of examples of that which they would
call excess, and usually those examples, while they
have a title that can be used conveniently, do not
reflect at all the specific project in terms of its
These items funded by NSF come under very serious
review. NSF relies on the judgment of over 60,000
independent reviewers, each of whom has expertise
in his or her field. Depending on whether by mail
or by panel reviews being used, each proposal is reviewed
by an average of 4 to 11 experts and ranked on its
scientific merit. As of this moment, approximately
1 in 3 proposals are eventually funded even though
well over half are considered to have enough merit
to deserve funding.
It is important for the Members to know that we support
strongly this bill in its present form. It is very
important that the Members oppose this amendment.
Mr. NEUMANN. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite
number of words.
I rise in support of this amendment. I came here 4
years ago. We were $5 1/2 trillion in debt, $20,000
for every man, woman and child in the United States
of America. When we got here, the deficit was over
$200 billion a year.
We have come a long ways in this 3 years. We have
gotten to a point where we are actually running surpluses
for the first time since 1969. We saw a tax cut package
passed last year for the first time in 16 years.
Then we get into the discussion about have we really
done our job or do we have a long ways yet to go,
and we start looking at lists of projects like some
of these that are mentioned here and talking about
10 percent increases, and one almost gets this feeling,
this tugging out here that, since now we are in surplus,
we can start spending more of the taxpayers' money,
and we had 10 percent increases in some areas.
The gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. Sanford),
my good friend, has proposed an amendment that does
not decrease funding for this very important area
but rather freezes it at last year's level. It simply
brings it back into line.
Let us talk about some of the things that we have
been funding and why it is that we would not want
to see this kind of dramatic increase, much more of
an increase than most of the households in my district
are getting: Studying things like video on demand
for popular videos; I am not sure that the people
of Wisconsin would want to spend money on that study.
Or why women smile more than men; I am not sure they
would want to see money spent on that.
I am a former math teacher, and I taught everywhere
from 7th grade on up through college courses. I find
the study on the geometric applications to billiards
to be of particular interest to me personally, because
I was very interested in those sorts of things. And
back in my math courses we did things like look at
money growth and how it related to Social Security
and how the interest rates impacted that. We did a
lot of practical applications in our math courses,
and this seems to be an area that a math professor
from some place in the United States of America, or
maybe a fine high school math teacher, or even a junior
high math teacher might want to go out and start doing
some of the studies that are involved with this.
But do I think I want to go into the households in
Wisconsin's first district in Janesville, Wisconsin,
or Kenosha or Racine and say to those families that
we are going to take your tax dollars and use those
tax dollars for purposes of doing a study on billiards?
I do not so. I do not think that they would think
that is a good use of tax dollars out here.
I think when we go through some of the rest of these
we can see additional areas: Study cheap talk, $12,000
to study cheap talk. Long-term profitability of automobile
leasing. This brings us to another area, long-term
profitability of automobile leasing.
We are talking about corporations here, fine corporations
that provide many jobs in the United States of America.
The question that needs to be asked is, do we need
the taxpayers' money to fund studies that are going
to benefit these corporations?
I guess I keep coming back to the all-important question,
and that question is, if I go to a family of five
in my district that gets up every morning and goes
to work and works hard and I ask them, do you want
me to spend money on behalf of these automobile leasing
organizations to find better ways and more efficient
ways to lease cars, or do you think that that is a
study that they should themselves initiate? Is it
all right to take money out of your paycheck to pay
for these sorts of things?
I keep coming back to the answer is no. The answer
is just plain, flat-out no. We should not be spending
money on some of these sorts of programs. And as important
as research is in this country, we need to direct
our research dollars to those areas that are going
to benefit the Nation as a whole.
For that reason, I strongly support the Sanford amendment;
and I would hope that my colleagues see the wisdom
of going along with this sort of an amendment to this
I would just like to commend the chairman on his hard
work and the staff on their hard work on this bill
because I think they have done a very, very fine job.
There are some areas that perhaps some of our colleagues
would disagree with, and this just happens to be one
So I rise in strong support of the Sanford amendment.
Ms. STABENOW. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite
number of words.
(Ms. STABENOW asked and was given permission to revise
and extend her remarks.)
Ms. STABENOW. Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank
the chairman and the ranking member of the subcommittee
for their strong commitment to science, research and
development in this country.
I rise today as someone representing middle Michigan
where those middle-class families that have been discussed
today are rising every day to go to work in jobs that
have more and more technology involved in their employment.
They rise to go to work in areas where they are dependent
upon new research and developing technologies so that
the jobs that they are working in are the best-paying
They care about the air and the water, and they want
to make sure that we are doing everything we can to
research ways to be able to clean up the air and the
water and protect the environment through research
areas that do not involve job loss but new technologies.
They care very much about health research and the
future for their children. They want us to be at the
front end of the technology revolution that is happening
all across the world.
In my opinion, there are two efforts critically important
that we are engaged in nationally on behalf of Americans,
and that is education and a focus on research and
technology development for future jobs and future
quality-of-life opportunities for our citizens.
The National Science Foundation is a small investment
in a major effort to increase the quality of life
for our citizens, and I would strongly urge a 'no'
vote on this amendment.
Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Chairman,
Representative Sanford has offered an amendment
to freeze NSF's appropriations for research awards,
giving as the reason NSF's support for questionable
grant awards. He has referred to several grants which
he claims supports his action.
Examination of the grants listed by Mr. Sanford
indicate his assessment of the contents is based on
- ATM Research--This is not research on automated
teller machines. Actually, it is research on Asynchronous
Transfer Mode, a promising new network transmission
protocol to enable the creation of very high speed
- Social Poker--This refers not to a poker
game but to the development of a theory of how
individuals determine which of their resources
they are willing to put at risk in order to gain
the benefits of joining a group. This is basic
research that may help explain what it would take
to get a country to sign on to a treaty, or when
it is a rational decision for companies to merge.
- Routing Trucks--This is an extension of
what is known to mathematicians as the 'traveling
salesman problem.' This problem asks how to find
the shortest possible route to a given number
of cities without visiting one twice. The study
in question develops and tests powerful new mathematical
optimization algorithms. This subject has considerable
practical value. Transportation costs account
for 15% of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product, and
a major element of transportation involves the
routing and scheduling of fleets of trucks.
- Cheap Talk--Cheap talk refers to the cost
of information in an economic model. Generally
speaking, we must pay for information--in terms
of procuring expert advice, the cost of publications
or the time to gather data. The research explores
the implications for economic and decision models
when information is relatively inexpensive, such
as that made available on the Internet.
- Video on Demand--The underlying research
issues are related to using network protocols
to transmit real time video, which has enormous
data transmission requirements. These fundamental
questions require high-risk research that HBO
or Blockbuster are not likely to support. But
if the basic research is successful, service providers
and consumers (including those who may use real-time
video for distance learning or telemedicine) stand
to reap huge returns from the investment.
- Billiards--This research applies, not to
pool playing, but to a complex mathematical theory
of interest in geometry and physics. The scientific
use of the term 'billiards' originated over 100
years ago as a way of conceptualizing how atomic
particles carom off each other. Mathematicians
later on began to develop complex math theory,
known as Ergodtic Theory, that attempts to predict
the trajectory of idealized particles in confined
spaces. This research is important for understanding
many different types of non-linear or chaotic
systems, such as airflow around an airplane, leading
to an improved understanding of turbulence in
- Study of Jokes--This research at its core
is not about humor. Rather, it is involved with
the reasons for the perpetuation of inaccurate
stereotypes and the promulgation of racism, sexism,
and prejudice against people with disabilities
and other distinguishing characteristics. Humor
is used in the study as a research tool to investigate
the cognitive processes that accompany and determine
the interpretation of information conveyed in
a social context.
The proponent of the amendment has picked a handful
of grants from the 10,000 or so that are funded
each year by NSF and, on the basis of a title
which is obscure or seems frivolous, proposes
that the House freeze the research activities
of the Foundation at last year's level.
This proposed amendment represents an effective
cut of $270 million to the nation's basic research
enterprise, which is largely carried out at colleges
and universities throughout the country. It will
result in 760 fewer research awards. It will mean
NSF supports 5,000 fewer scientists and students.
The proposals funded by NSF have been subjected
to a rigorous evaluation. They are chosen on the
basis of merit through a competitive process:
In a given year, NSF relies on the judgment of
over 60,000 reviewers, each an expert in the field
of a particular proposal. Each proposal is reviewed
by between 4 and 11 experts, depending on whether
a mail or panel review is used.
The proposals are ranked on the basis of scientific
merit, as well as on the broader impacts of the
proposed activity. Only one in three proposals
is funded, although more than half are rated as
sufficiently meritorious to deserve to be funded.
The proposal selection process is rigorous, but
not perfect. Efforts are made continually to improve
the range of representation of reviewers and to
sharpen the review criteria. But the system is
widely respected by the scientific community,
and constitutes the most effective method yet
discovered to identify meritorious research proposals
and to prioritize among worthy proposals.
The merit selection and prioritization process
used by NSF has produced an academic research
enterprise that is the envy of the world. The
proposed amendment to freeze funding for NSF's
research activities will result in harm to the
nation's technological strength.
Investment in R&D is the single most important
determinant of long-term economic growth. According
to economists, about one half to two thirds of
economic growth can be attributed to technological
advances. Although difficult to measure, there
is consensus that the economic payoff from basic
research investments is substantial. The importance
of basic research can be appreciated by considering
the technological advancements that have grown
out of past NSF-sponsored work:
- Internet--Over the past decade, NSF has
transformed the Internet from a tool used by a
handful of researchers at DOD to the backbone
of this Nation's university research infrastructure.
Today the Internet is on the verge of becoming
the Nation's commercial marketplace.
- Nanotechnology and 'Thin Film'--50 years
ago scientists developed the transistor and ushered
in the information revolution. Today 3 million
transistors can fit on a chip no larger than the
fingernail-sized individual transistor. NSF's
investment in nanotechnology & 'thin films'
are expected to generate a further 1,000 fold
reduction in size for semiconductor devices with
eventual cost-savings of a similar magnitude.
- Genetics--What is often overlooked is the
critical role played by NSF in supporting the
basic research that leads to the breakthroughs
of mapping the human genome for which NIH justly
receives credit. Research supported by NSF was
key to the development of the polymerase chain
reaction and a great deal of the technology used
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging--The development
of this technology was made possible by combining
information gained through the study of the spin
characteristics of basic matter, research in mathematics,
and high flux magnets. The Next Generation Nuclear
Magnetic Resonance Imager, currently under construction,
will allow for the identification of the 3-dimensional
structures of the 100,000 proteins whose genes
are being sequenced by the Human Genome Project.
- Buckeyballs--The discovery of buckeyballs,
a new form of carbon won for the researchers a
Nobel prize. Its discovery was the result of work
by astronomers. This in turn led to the discovery
of the carbon nanotube, which has been found to
be 100 times stronger than steel and a fraction
of the weight. Nanotubes may produce cars weighing
no more than 100 pounds.
- Plant Genome--Research into the genome
of a flower plant with no previous commercial
value (Arabidopsis thaliana) led to the discovery
of ways to increase crop yields, production of
plants with seeds having lower polyunsaturated
fats and to the development of crops that produce
a biodegradable plastic.
- Artificial Retina--Researchers at NC State
have designed a computer chip that may pave the
way for creation of an artificial retina. Problems
with bio-compatibility have been solved by researchers
at Stanford who developed a synthetic cell membrane
that adheres to both living cells and silicon
- CD Players--CD players rely on data compression
algorithms that were developed using a NSF grant.
These algorithms were first used in the transmission
of satellite data and now provide the foundation
for new developments in data storage.
- Jet Printers--The mathematical equations
that describe the behavior of fluid under pressure
provided the foundation for developing the ink
- Camcorders--Virtually all camcorders and
electronic devices using electronic imaging sensors
are based on charge-coupled devices. These devices,
sensitive to a single photon of light, were developed
and transformed by astronomers interested in maximizing
their capacity for light gathering.
Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Chairman. I rise to
speak against the Sanford amendment to reduce the
National Science Foundation by $269 million.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) provides this
Nation with the tools to remain a superpower in a
world where technology remains supreme. It helps develop
new technologies, not only on its own, but also through
its partnerships with other government agencies, like
NASA, and with private institutions.
The NSF is largely responsible for many of the scientific
breakthroughs that we currently enjoy in this country.
In fact, many of our more important scientific achievements
started either with an experiment in a NSF lab, or
with a NSF grant to a university or private corporation.
We cannot expect our chldren to be prepared for the
next millennium if they do not have the right equipment
to learn on. Ladies and gentlemen, trying to teach
children computer science without the benefit of a
computer is like trying to teach English to children
without books--utterly impossible.
We must do our part to ensure that our children have
the opportunity to learn, especially in the areas
of math in science. This year in the House Science
Committee, we have heard a myriad of testimony during
hearings regarding the under-education of our youth
in the hard sciences. It has gotten to the point that
the media fails to report scientific breakthroughs,
not because of lack of public interest, but often
because they do not feel that the general public will
understand the scientific achievement and what it
means to them. That is shameful. If this Nation intends
to remain a world leader, we must do our part to educate
our children in the ways of the future.
Here in Congress, we have worked long and hard to
rectify this problem. We have sought to increase funding
for education. We have tried to provide targeted discounts
to schools and libraries so that they can get on the
Internet. Those initiatives are controversial, but
this provision is not. Its costs are low, and its
The CHAIRMAN. The question is on the amendment offered
by the gentleman from California (Mr. Royce).
The amendment was rejected.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there further amendments to this
portion of the bill?
The Clerk will read.
The Clerk read as follows:
MAJOR RESEARCH EQUIPMENT
For necessary expenses of major construction projects
pursuant to the National Science Foundation Act of
1950, as amended, $90,000,000, to remain available
Mr. BROWN of California. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike
the last word.
Mr. Chairman, I do so for the purposes of having a
brief colloquy with the chairman of the subcommittee
with regard to an item of funding in the National
Science Foundation. I understand that the chairman
is aware of the important work done by the RAND Corporation's
Radius program, which was established at the direction
of the White House Office of Science and Technology
Policy. This program provides a unique asset for tracking
all Federal spending on R&D and should prove a very
useful tool to those of us in Congress who are looking
for ways to do more with the limited dollars we have.
In past years, the Federal share of funding for Radius
has come from the National Science Foundation. It
is my understanding that the Chair would support NSF's
providing $1.5 million in funding for Radius services
during fiscal year 1999. Is that correct?
Mr. LEWIS of California. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman
Mr. BROWN of California. I yield to the gentleman
Mr. LEWIS of California. Yes, Mr. Chairman, my colleague
is correct. I am familiar with the Radius program,
and I am very impressed by this unique tool. I believe
it is in the best interest of the Federal Government
to continue to support the further development of
Radius and would look favorably upon NSF providing
$1.5 million in fiscal year 1999 towards that end.
I will work in the conference to include the language
that makes this clear.
Mr. BROWN of California. Mr. Chairman, as usual, I
want to thank my friend for his kind words and his
support for this program.